Sangraha is a brainchild of Dr Jaspal Kalra, that started as a project during his doctoral research. ‘Sangraha’ in hindi means for group of people and also commitment to sustaining heritage (Sangrahalya or museum) The word in itself expresses the vision behind it which was co-working with artisans in collaboration and reviving heritage.

About the historicity of the brand and organisation: born in Lucknow, a city of craft, culture and history, Dr Kalra started appreciating the nuances of cultural narratives wrapped in crafts. The subtleness of etiquettes is expressed in the whitework of Chikankari drew him close to embroidery. Chikankari, an age-old embroidery done in Lucknow city of northern India. It has been known since long for its intricacy, transparency and variety of stitches which also includes jail (network). It’s the sheer finesse of stitches and transparency they create that makes it exclusive that lack of color becomes its identity and essence. The association that started more than two decades ago was to become a companion for life.

His design language became synonymous with handcrafted techniques and stories associated with it. Chikankari stayed with him even in my professional qualifications of Masters and Doctorate. Doctoral research established close connection with the social aspects of Chikankari. Lucknow presently has more than 0.2 million artisans associated with this craft. The women artisans involved in Chikankari work from home and live a financially marginalised, socially excluded life in deprived conditions. They have inadequate access to health and other services, are isolated in value chain, face destruction of social capital, alienation and powerlessness. The high skilled artisans fail to get dignified earning through their skill and become middlemen for better earning.


During the doctoral research between 2014 to 2017 worked towards developing a service prototype (design education programme) and tested it in two trials. The insights in the design empowerment of artisans was that role of the designer should not be as a leader, but as a provocator, facilitator and leveller in craft projects. The true empowerment of artisan is about regaining confidence in their effectiveness, creativity and outstanding skills by getting a chance to receive appreciation from buyers and designers. The future of craft is innovating while valuing its traditional techniques and subjective aspects of composition not just at product level but at the level of artisans.

It was with this group of women that Sangraha started and trademark was registered as Sangraha Karigar Atelier under Enduring Handcrafts Private Limited. Enduring to value the endurance in embroidery created by human hands. Its an association of mind body and soul. The organisation is for profit legally but since inception has been trying to establish norm for responsible entrepreneurship. Sangraha doesn’t call itself fair trade rather responsible and honest towards artisans, at it goes beyond the fair trade to build relations. Relations to share experiences and grounded in empathy.


Our co-working artisans are our core team and strength that is committed to excellence, innovation and responsibility through ethical trade. The share of wages surpasses the ones existing in market and each team member has health protection cover, can afford education of wards to name a few benefits.


All this has been possible through the patrons who have appreciated the craft since our first exhibition in Pune in 2014, to frequent ones at Dastkar or buyers at stores: Jaipur Modern, Collage, Artisans and more. With new paths to tread team has expanded and also experts have joined as advisors in mission. 


Founded by craft designer Dr. Kalra and supported by fashion technologist Indu Kalra, the efforts are now mentored by social-cohesion trainer Susan Kolady and Samir Kher.

The meaning of responsibility was discovered in year 2020, when Chikankari and Ari artisans barely earn less than a dollar in a day were out of work and earning. The power of team was seen in such tough times. Some artisans from our team, gave up their resources to support others. Embroidered masks were created to give means to those who were out of resources.


It later evolved into permanent social initiative with a range of products under Sangraha: Sacha Sauda. It is based on Sacha Sauda principle of Sikh preacher Guru Nanak Dev, whereby accumulation of skills, knowledge, blessings through community service is considered ‘Ethical Trade’.


Supporting financial independence of craftspeople through social cohesion, experience, training and education for excellence and innovation in co-working and pursuing economic as well as environmental ethics.


एकजुटता, अनुभव, ट्रेनिंग और शिक्षा द्वारा उत्कृष्ठता और नवीनता से सहकार्य करते हुए कारीगरों को वित्तीय आज़ादी पाने में सहयोग करते  हुए आर्थिक तथा पर्यावरणीय नैतिकता को अपनाना।


Sangraha proudly works towards articulating the narratives of artisans, their workmanship and heritage by reinterpreting them innovatively and ethically. Our premise that "hands are not isolated from heart and soul in a craft". Each hand and mind that touches the product in making actually becomes a protagonist in the story.  

Our responsibility towards artisans continues and excellence and innovation are our means to let people join the experience as customers and possessors of these narratives. Being for profit has made sure we create change through our own efforts and trade. Profit has a meaning in community.

The community of collaborators is growing as the delight of owing craft products that mimic skills in antiquity is spreading with our mission. The thread that travels through the fabric to embroiderer is the shared love of founders and artisans who collectively give the experience of innovation & excellence.



It’s been a long road for Kalra’s organization, one replete with roadblocks and challenges, and the going hasn’t always been easy. But he is confident that Sangraha is a step in the right direction and that they will see more success. 


Once Exploited, These Women Chikan Karigars of Lucknow Are Masters of Their Designs Today.


Creating a positive impact!



Jaspal Kalra’s scholarship leads him back to Lucknow where he celebrates those who add delight to our new masked identities.




Sangraha: Mask-For-Need: Covid Initiative


Sangraha: Let-Heart-Pay-For-What-You-Want: Covid Initiative

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© 2020 by Sangraha Karigar Atelier.